Who is Shahabuddin Nagari?
Shahabuddin Nagari is a Bangladeshi poet, bureaucrat, poet and musician who has earned a reputation for himself in the field of modern literature, conveying his romantic thoughts and love for his country through his expressive poems, thoughtful articles, novels, and soulful music. After completing his education in zoology, he cleared the civil examination to fetch a government job in customs and excise department. However, that didn’t deter him from dedicating time to writing and composing music. Being a romantic poet, he went on to create a niche for himself by composing every new poem distinct from his previous one. What makes his creations unique is that he lets his emotions flow and writes freely in a descriptive style. In addition to poetry, he has authored several rhyme books for children, short stories, juvenile novels and storybooks, articles and columns, travelogues, and novels, apart from co-editing anthologies. By showing his exceptional caliber in singing, composing, song writing, dialogue writing, and script writing, he has become a reputed figure in the cultural spheres of Bangladesh. Some of his popular poetry volumes are ‘Midnight Locomotive and Other Poems’, and ‘The Black Cat and Other Poems’
Childhood & Early Life
Shahabuddin Nagari was born on October 6, 1955, in Shibnagar, Chapai Nawabganj district, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
Due to his father’s transferable job, he attended several schools across Bangladesh and finally completed his schooling from Rajabazar Nazneen High School, Dhaka, in 1972.
In 1974, he passed higher secondary education from Chittagong College and enrolled in a zoology course at Chittagong University. He graduated with a BSc (Honors) degree in 1978 and headed for a Masters program in the Thesis Group.
After submitting his thesis on ‘Rice Field Spiders’, he obtained his Masters degree with a first class in 1980, becoming the first entomologist to research on spiders in Bangladesh.
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His interest in literature evolved during childhood, when he used to write rhymes. He was further motivated by his uncle, Abdul Mannan, in his literary pursuits.
At the age of 13, he started contributing regularly to Bangladeshi newspapers – ‘Mukuler Mahfil’ (The Daily Azad) and ‘Kachi Kachar Ashor’ (The Daily Ittefaq), with his first rhyme ‘Ami Kobi’ (I am a Poet) being published in 1969.
Besides writing, he was passionate about music as well, and attended Pakistan Cultural Academy, Dhaka, to learn classical and modern music under M.A. Hamid, Mahmudunnabi, and Mohammad Abdul Jabbar.
He served in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War and resumed his writing career after returning to Chittagong, by submitting his works to the weekly ‘Rajanigandha’. He continued his music classes under Ustad Syed Anwar Mufti.
While at college, he sang at all cultural functions and was later selected as a listed singer on Bangladesh Television, in 1977.
Gradually, he switched to writing for children, by contributing to ‘The Daily Michhil’, and moved out of Chittagong, publishing in the children’s section in all major newspapers and magazines in Dhaka.
He released his first volume of rhymes ‘Nil Paharer Chhara’ in 1978, through ‘Muktodhara’ (The Swadhin Bangla Sahittya Parishad), a leading publishing house in Dhaka at that time.
After completing his education in 1980, he started working as a Research Fellow on spiders at University Grants Commission (UGC) under Professor (Dr.) Shafique Haider Chowdhury.
In 1981, he took up the job of a zoology lecturer at Chittagong University. Thereafter, he appeared in the Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) examination and passed it.
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He quit his teaching job in December 1983 and entered government service by joining as Assistant Collector of Customs & Excise, where he rose to various positions and ranks in subsequent years.
In 1986, he published his second book as a collection of literature articles titled ‘Mahakaler Batighar’ through Caucus Publishers.
In 1986, Dolna Prakashani released his next book of rhymes ‘Mouly Tomar Chhara’. Since then, there has been no looking back for him, as he went on to publish several literary works year after year.
After concentrating on his job and literary career, he returned to singing in 1994 with the BTV drama ‘Keu Fere Keu Fere Na’ and released his first studio album titled ‘Bishonno Mon’ with famous composer, Subal Das, in 1996.
With 10 solo albums published in the next ten years, he lent his voice to over 200 songs, including the 2003 nationwide popular single ‘Bhalobasha Bhag Kora Jay Na’.
He has authored 17 books of rhymes, 16 volumes of poems, 4 articles and essays, 6 juvenile novels and short stories, apart from two English translated poetry collections, one novel and one travelogue.
He has tried his hand at editing as well, publishing three poetry and rhyme anthologies, along with other writers.
Currently, he is working as a Commissioner of Customs Valuation and Internal Audit Commissionerate at National Board of Revenue (NBR), Ministry of Finance.
He was highly acclaimed for his story, dialogues, script, and music direction for the 2004 movie ‘Ak Khondo Jomi’, based on his poem of the same name from his book ‘Aguner Ful Fote Thonte’.
He is also known for his two English translated books – an anthology of 86 poems reflecting the Bangla culture ‘Midnight Locomotive and Other Poems’ (2010) and collection of love poems ‘The Black Cat and Other Poems’ (2011).
Personal Life & Legacy
He got married to Dr. Aftabun Nahar Maksuda, an assistant surgeon at Chittagong Medical College and Hospital, in 1983.
The couple has two sons – Rehan Uddin Nagari, born in 1987, and Farhan Uddin Nagari, born in 1991.